Statement by President François Hollande (07.01.15)
My dear compatriots,
Today, France was attacked at its very heart in Paris, at the offices of a newspaper. This extremely violent shooting killed 12 people and injured several others; highly talented cartoonists, courageous columnists were killed. Their impertinence and independence influenced generations and generations of French people. I want to tell them that we will continue to defend this message, this message of freedom, in their name.
This cowardly attack also killed two police officers, the very ones who were responsible for protecting Charlie Hebdo and its editorial staff who have been threatened for years by obscurantism and who defended the freedom of expression.
These men, this woman, died because of their vision of France, namely freedom. I would like, on your behalf, to express our wholehearted gratitude to the families, to those affected, to the injured, to the friends, to all those who were deeply hurt today by this cowardly murder. They are now our heroes and that’s why I have decided that tomorrow will be a day of national mourning. There will be a moment of silence at 12:00 pm in all government offices and I encourage everyone to join in. Flags will be flown at half-mast for three days.
Today it is the Republic as a whole that has been attacked. The Republic equals freedom of expression; the Republic equals culture, creation, it equals pluralism and democracy. That is what the assassins were targeting. It equals the ideal of justice and peace that France promotes everywhere on the international stage, and the message of peace and tolerance that we defend – as do our soldiers – in the fight against terrorism and fundamentalism.
France has received messages of solidarity and fraternity from countries around the globe, and we must take their full measure. Our response must be commensurate with the crime committed against us, first by seeking the perpetrators of this act of infamy, and then by making sure they are arrested, tried and punished very severely. And everything will be done to apprehend them. The investigation is now moving forward under the authority of the Ministry of Justice.
We must also protect all public spaces. The government has implemented what is known as the Vigipirate Plan on “attack” level, which means that security forces will be deployed wherever there is the hint of a threat. Finally, we ourselves must be mindful of the fact that our best weapon is our unity: the unity of all our fellow citizens in this difficult moment. Nothing can divide us, nothing must pit us against one another, nothing must separate us. Tomorrow I will convene the Presidents of both assemblies as well as the political forces represented in Parliament to demonstrate our common resolve.
France is great when she is capable of rising to the test, rising to a level that has always enabled her to overcome hardships. Freedom will always be stronger than barbarity. France has always vanquished her enemies when she has stood united and remained true to her values. That is what I ask you to do: to join together, all of you, in every way possible; that must be our response. Let us join together at this difficult moment, and we shall win, because we are fully capable of believing in our destiny, and nothing can weaken our resolve.
Let us join together.
Vive la République et vive la France!